Yellowcard — punk with soul

We are in a stage of music where pop-punk bands are as abundant as hair bands were in the late ’80s and early ’90s. A tattooed pretty boy with zero gauges in his ears and a broken heart set to a catchy three-chord medley lurks around every corner. Thankfully, there are some exceptions that outshine the Skid Rows and Warrants of our time.

One band in particular is Yellowcard. At first, this Florida-based, California-dwelling band sounds like every other act out there trying to make a name for itself by way of VFW shows or sing-song lyrics. But Yellowcard has a certain something that will jump out at you more significantly than David Lee Roth in tight spandex. Unlike the others, Yellowcard features a trained violinist in its line-up. Dangerously close to being a gimmick, the violin adds just the right amount of charm and spunk to make the Yellowcard sound refreshing and addictive – very addictive.

Their latest release, “Ocean Avenue,” has been in stores since July 22 and, though it pains me, the first single from the album, “Way Away” already has regular play on stations like Y100. I mean, it really could be worse – it could be on Clear Channel stations.

This summer, the band participated in the once-coveted Warped Tour show. I remember how exciting it used to be to go see all of the best punk bands in one place, at one show for one low price. But things have changed, and that great music has been replaced with bands like Simple Plan. The day was not completely shot to hell, though, because it was one of the most vibrant punk shows I’ve heard in a long while, courtesy of Yellowcard, of course.

Only my favorite band, The Bouncing Souls, rivals Yellowcard’s energy on stage. I am not comparing the two – their styles are completely different – but the vitality, raw emotion and love for the fans and music is very similar.

Years ago, as a high school senior, I stood with people who were still in elementary school. I realized that this band had potential to becomea big name. Instead, it was stranded on a lonely stage while Taking Back Sunday (TBS) tugged on the heartstrings of the majority of its Jersey home crowd.

The kids who decided to pick Yellowcard this time over TBS were treated to a fair share of default punk synchronized jumping (when members of the band jump in unison to certain upbeat parts of the song) and a set list that lulled only during a Sept. 11 tribute song. Though touching, the song was out of place and didn’t fit in with the “I’ve been standing all day, sweating my ass off” mood that hung over the crowd.

There is just something so embarrassingly catchy about all of its songs. When you catch yourself singing along or finding sentimental value in them, you can’t help but feel silly, I do every time. Why don’t I just sew their patch on my Jansport backpack and make marriage plans with the lead singer? In my own hypocritical defense, music is an art of emotion, so what good is putting any into it if you can’t elicit an equal or greater response?

Without sounding even more like a math problem, my point is, Yellowcard is a fun, talented band that has built – and will continue to build – a good rapport with their growing legions of good-time seeking, heart-on-their-sleeve-wearing, adolescent fans. At least they don’t wear eye makeup and crash their Camaros. Check out Yellowcard’s albums: “The Underdog EP,” “One For The Kids” and the latest, “Ocean Avenue.”